Can Unified Communications Improve Productivity?

Summarizing a study by SIS International Research, ChannelWeb is reporting that the greatest communications pain point for SMBs is waiting for information. The study defined “waiting for information” as the time it takes to reach someone to pass along information or get an answer.

More interesting facts from the study:

  • On average, 70 percent of SMB respondents said they experience the top five pain points, and 17.5 hours each week is spent addressing communications barriers
  • The average cost of the lost productivity due to dealing with these pain points was about $5,246 per employee

Click here for the full article.

Is Consolidation in Online Backups Beginning?

PC Magazine is reporting that HP is discontinuing its online backup services, known as Upline. Without any public press release from HP, customers have received notice of the service termination and will be receiving full refunds.

While generally regarded as a slick service, Upline had significant service quality issues.

This announcement follows Yahoo’s announcement that the Yahoo Briefcase service would also come to an end. Yahoo Briefcase, a free service, limited users to 30MB of data — an amount the marketplace deemed to lack any real value.

Improved Interface for Attachments in Gmail

Google has release two nice improvements for attachments in Gmail. You can now:

  • Select and attach multiple files from the same folder simultaneously
  • See the upload progress of your files

Google’s Gmail Outage in Perspective

Tuesday Morning, from about 4:00 am to 7:00 am EST, many users could not access Gmail through the web interface. For Google Apps Premier Edition users, the impact appears to have been only the web access — IMAP access was working from our iPhones and we could still generate calendar updates and invites, site invites and update notices, and google doc sharing invites.

From some in the “blog-o-sphere”, this outage is the reason why Cloud Computing will fail. In our view, this is why cloud computing is viable. Most businesses could not recover from a major email outage, with no loss of data, in three hours.

Google has already completed a post mortem and has published the results here.

Additionally, they have responded by creating an Apps Status Dashboard that provides real time status indicators for all applications in the Google Apps Premier Edition suite.

In our opinion. Outages will always happen. That Google was able to respond quickly, restore service, fix the underlying issue (actual cause), and improve processes and communications, is a clear indication that the market demand for perfection will drive continuous improvements in the service. As a side note, Google has automatically credited all effected users with 15 days of services, exceeding what is required in the Service Level Agreement.

GMail / GTalk Phishing Scam

ZDnet is reporting a phishing scam targeting users of Gmail and Gtalk services. The scam provides an “account termination” warning and asks users to click a link to a fake site that asks for login credentials.

What to do?

  1. NEVER give your login credentials to fix an “account problem”
  2. Run Google Apps Premier Edition and activate the Google Message Security (Postini) service. Messages like these get caught. Discovers Web Conferencing

When the mainstream media reports on a technology trend, is the trend over? Let’s hope not. In a stroke of industry insight, is reporting that “Web Conferencing Booms”.

The article gives case studies and pricing for Citrx GoTo Meeting and GoTo Webinar services (both great services), while taking a few jabs at Cisco WebEx (another great service).

For many, Web Conferencing is a great first venture into Cloud Computing. It is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that meets a clear need and has easily quantified returns on investment. Combined with Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone service, the benefits can be even greater.

VMware Clouds Their Vision

As widely reported and covered in this ChannelWeb article, VMware is promoting a cloud computing strategy with the potential to integrate internal clouds and vendor clouds.

A few thoughts:

  • Is an “internal cloud” really a “cloud”, or just an traditional data center abstracted across virtual servers and resources? Are you getting full benefit from your internal cloud if you need to manage the virtualization systems and utilities, as well continue to manage and support hardware and applications?
  • Can VMware create enough partnerships to move beyond infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings?

The answers to these and other questions will come over time. Stay tuned ….

Gartner Recommends Buying Google Apps from a Reseller

In a publication titled “Google Apps Reseller Channel Puts ‘Feet’ on the Street”, Gartner recommends companies purchase Google Apps through the reseller channel.

“Procure GAPE via the reseller channel and drive toward a
cost plus price, which could potentially reduce the overall GAPE price by
almost 20%.”

With bundled implementation, migration, and integration services, Gartner identifies qualified resellers as a means of managing the overall cost of the service.

Levels of Cloud Computing

“Cloud Computing”, as a term, is quickly becoming a catch-all term for any service available over the Internet. This post from the vendor Rightscale provides a great definition of the three basic levels of Cloud Computing.

Hamilton Beach Blends Savings with Gmail

Reviewing newsletters, I ran across an interesting article from TechTarget in mid-January. Hamilton Beach Brands made the case for moving from an in-house email solution to Google Apps Premier Edition. With a large IT staff, they managed the project in-house, buying direct for Google.

For many SMB’s, reseller expertise can speed the planning, implementation, and integration effort for a successful transition.